The concept of higher education has a long history in the Kielce Region. It goes back to the Renaissance, when, in 1602, the Polish Brethren congregation of Raków established the Rakovian Academy. It was an institution with high academic standards, well-known across Europe. Many of the brethren were alumni of western European universities, acquainted with the international academic community. They made sure instruction was provided by outstanding scholars. Unfortunately, because of the counterreformation, the Racovian Academy was closed down in 1638 by the Polish Parliament (the Seym). The next centuries were turbulent times with political conflicts and wars, not favourable to the development of higher education in the Kielce Region. The turning point was the year 1816, when the School for Academic and Mining Education was founded in Kielce to facilitate the development of the mining and metallurgical industries. Initiated by Stanisław Staszic, an outstanding reformer, the school was the first technology-oriented higher education institution in Poland to train professional engineers in metallurgy, casting and other mechanical engineering areas. The School operated until 1826 and had 40 graduates.
In the decades that followed, especially after Poland regained independence, the local community strived to found a new higher education institution in Kielce. Their efforts were disrupted by the war and the German occupation. In 1943, teachers of the secondary schools in Kielce established contacts with the university circles in Warsaw to start underground degree courses. They set up the Faculty of Humanities, also known as the University of Western Territories, which operated in secrecy until late June 1945.
After WW2, the primary goal was to rebuild the national economy. It was crucial to provide relevant education and training to specialist personnel. On the initiative of the Administration and Economy Council, Kielce launched Higher Technical Courses. Then in 1951, the Radom Evening School of Engineering opened its offcampus centre in Kielce. It was the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering operating until 1957.
Members of the regional industrial community strived for access to technical higher education in the region’s capital. In 1960, the Society of Friends of Higher Education Schools was established in Kielce. It initiated the setting up, in 1962, of the Kielce Full- and Part-Time Study Centre affiliated with the Cracow University of Technology. Later, the Society coordinated the foundation of the Evening and Weekend Study Centre, a subsidiary of both the AGH Academy of Mining and Metallurgy and the Cracow University of Technology. The Kielce-Radom Evening School of Engineering was established in Kielce by merging the Kielce-based Centre of Higher Education for Working Adults with the Radom Evening School of Engineering, by regulation of the Council of Ministers dated 3 June 1965. At the time, the School consisted of four faculties: the Faculties of General Engineering,
Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in Kielce and the Faculty of Tanning in Radom. Moreover, the Faculties of General Engineering and Mechanical Engineering had their branches in Skarżysko Kamienna and Radom.
The Kielce-Radom Evening School of Engineering was transformed into the Kielce-Radom Higher School of Engineering by regulation of the Council of Ministers of 5 May 1967. The School offered full-time and part-time, i.e. evening and weekend, programmes. The institution comprised the Kielce-based Faculties of Electrical Engineering and Civil Engineering, the Skarżysko-based Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and the Radom-based Faculties of General Engineering and Shoemaking and Tanning, and then the Faculties of Transport and Economics (opened in 1969).
It was for the research achievements, especially those of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, that the School was granted, by decision of the Minister of Science, Higher Education and Technology dated 30 August 1972, the right to award the degree of doctor of science and technology in the discipline of mechanical enginering.
The School was upgraded to university status for its contribution to research and intensive cooperation with academic and industrial partners. It was transformed into the Kielce University of Technology by resolution of the Council of Ministers dated 19 September 1974. The changes involved restructuring. The Kielce campus of the University comprised three institutes within the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Civil Engineering (both with rights similar to those of a faculty), and finally the Institute of Social Sciences.
In the academic year 1975/1976, the Kielce University of Technology was reorganized. The Kielce campus consisted of the Institutes of Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mechanics, Motor Vehicles and Heavy Duty Equipment, and Manufacturing Processes, all forming the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and then the Institutes of Electrical Engineering and Civil Engineering (both with rights similar to those of a faculty). The Radom campus comprised the Institutes of Transport Economics and Policy, Plastics and Leather, and Machine Design (all with rights similar to those of a faculty). The interfaculty units were the Institute of Social Sciences, the IT Centre, the Main Library, the Military Programmes for Students Centre, the Physical Education Centre and the Foreign Languages Centre.
The year 1978 brought an important change in the university structure. The Higher School of Engineering was founded in Radom as an offshoot of the Kielce University of Technology.
In October 1978, the Kielce University of Technology was organized into three faculties: the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Automatic Control, and the newly established Faculty of Civil Engineering.
The University provided education also to international students. As their number increased, the Polish Language Centre for International Students was set up in 1985.
In the same year, an agreement was signed with the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to establish its branch at the Kielce University of Technology.
It was agreed that the university staff and students had access to the modern laboratory equipment purchased by the Institute.
The Faculty of Civil Engineering was granted the right to award the degree of doctor of science and technology in the discipline of civil engineering by order of the Minister of National Education dated 5 April 1989.
The Kielce University of Technology was committed to ensure high standards and quality of research, teaching and learning. In 1992, the campus network infrastructure was installed to provide all the university’s organizational units with access to the Internet.
The Laser Processing Research Centre was formed on 1 September 1996 as a joint unit of the Kielce University of Technology and the Polish Academy of Sciences.
In 1998, the Kielce University of Technology was granted the right to award the degree of doctor of science and technology in two disciplines: mechanics (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, 23 February 1998) and electrical engineering
(Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automatic Control and Computer Science, 28 September 1998). Two years later, on 27 November 2000, the right to award the degree of doctor of science and technology in environmental engineering was granted to the Faculty of Civil Engineering.
The Faculty of Management and Computer Modelling was established by order of the Minister of National Education dated 10 July 2001.
On entering the twenty-first century, the University faced new challenges and new opportunities. The accession of Poland to the European Union in 2004 enabled the University to participate in EU programmes that have contributed to its dynamic development.